‘Dodgy Box’ operator released on bail to shut down illegal TV service used by thousands – The Irish Times

A man awaiting sentencing for running an illegal television subscription service has been released from prison to allow him to close the operation.

Ciaran Donovan (41), a married father-of-two from Ashfield, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty last July to money laundering arising from the sale of an app linked to illegal streaming service King Kong Media between January 2016 and March of 2022.

However, the illegal service used by thousands of users remained accessible.

After being granted bail, on April 17 he was remanded in custody, despite the pleas of his lawyer, Desmond Hayes, who implored Judge Martina Baxter not to do so due to his client’s family situation.

On Tuesday, Seoirse Ó Dúnlaing, representing the prosecution, told the judge he wanted to make the “unusual” request for Donovan to be released on bail, under strict conditions, as he was anxious for the continuing illegal service to be shut down.

He said they were in a “chicken and egg” situation, as the judge had indicated he might take into account Donovan’s attitude towards the closure of the service when making his sentencing decision.

He asked that he be granted bail to allow the system to be dismantled, and that the conditions included Donovan agreeing to meet with a representative of Sky TV and a member of An Garda Síochána in order to hand over certain codes and URLs. details.

The court heard earlier this year that Donovan faces a second set of related charges at District Court level in relation to the continued operation of the service. Judge Baxter has delayed delivering her sentencing decision to hear the outcome of the second set of charges.

Referring to those charges, the judge said she did not know the details, but it appeared that a crime had occurred while Donovan was out on bail and that an “aggravating element” could arise.

The crime to which Donovan pleaded guilty was serious and involved the laundering of hundreds of thousands of euros, he said. Donovan was granted bail in January and then had the opportunity to close the service.

The case will be brought up again before Judge Baxter next week, at which time the service will be cut off, the judge said. Among the conditions of the bail is that Donovan post a notice on Telegram and other platforms that the service has been cut off. A Sky representative must verify that the service is no longer working before Donovan returns to appear before the judge.

The court heard that the system offered by Donovan allowed access to thousands of subscription channels for around the same annual price that such a service would normally cost per month, and that it had thousands of customers.

The illegal access to the channels was created by criminals outside the jurisdiction who then gave Donovan access for a fee.